When you read about or practice yoga you can hear people mention the Bandhas or locks. The bandhas are an aid to the yoga practice and help in harnessing the energy within the body.
In Sanskrit bandha means to lock, to hold, or to tighten and these locks are engaged to gain control and lock your energy, leading to a heightened axperience. One of these bandhas is the Uddiyana Bandha and here we want to talk about Uddiyana Bandha benefits.
Knowing About The Bandhas
The bandhas are an ancient practice deeply rooted in the yogic tradition and they are a step towards total control of your energy. There are four primary bandhas and they are basically muscular contractions that help you to breathe, focus on your awareness, keep your body strong, and give you a sense of lightness as you move through postures.
As we have said Bandha means to lock, close-off, or to stop. It can also mean “to bind” or “to hold captive”. In the practice of a Bandha, the energy flow to a particular area of the body is blocked. This is done as a method for harnessing the body energy or prana (life force) and bringing it under control.
The Four Main Bandhas
There are four main bandhas: three principle bandhas in the body, and a fourth that ties them all together. These are:
- Mula Bandha (Root lock)
- Uddiyana Bandha (Stomach lock)
- Jalandhara Bandha (Chin lock)
- Maha Bandha (Doing the above three bandhas all together)
Mula Bandha is performed in the pelvic area, Uddiyana Bandha is performed in the abdomen area and Jalandhara Bandha is performed in the chin area. Maha Bandha is the combining of these three bandhas all together at the same time.
What Is Uddiyana Bandha?
The Uddiyana Bandha is the stomach lock and in Sanskrit uddiyana means to fly up, or to rise up. So Uddiyana is called the upward flying lock and is mostly known from Hatha yoga.
It is the abdominal lock and it is the second of the three interior body “locks” used in asana and pranayama practice to control the flow of energy (prana) in the body. Each lock seals a specific part of the body.
Uddiyana Bandha can be done either sitting or standing, and actually people do it both ways. It basically invloves contraction of the abdomen into the rib cage. It’s easiest to learn uddiyana bandha in a standing position since the abdomen is not compressed when standing.
How To Do Uddiyana Bandha
To do Uddiyana Bandha it is best to be standing with the feet about three feet apart or the width of the yoga mat.
- Inhale into the body and then fully exhale
- Hold the out breath
- Then with a straightened spine, pull the stomach in and up toward the spinal column but do not release the breath (without taking any air into the lungs)
- Hollow the belly completely, drawing it up underneath the rib cage.
- Do not strain, but be firm.
- Hold for a few seconds.
- Release the abdomen slowly and with control, softening the abdomen and then inhale. You can repeat this exercise three times.
When the Bandha is released, this causes the energy to flood more strongly through the body with an increased pressure.
When you are not used to holding your abdominal muscles this way, the feeling is quite intense. In fact you may even have sore abs the next day.
Benefits of Uddiyana Bandha
Bandhas are energetic locks that contain the prana in the torso and concentrate it in the three main energy channels (nadis) of the body. Uddiyana Bandha can be performed in a physical manner engaging the skeletal muscles and it can also affect a subtle and internal energetic process.
It engages and tones the abdominal muscles and thus creates a strong core. It tones, massages and cleanses the abdominal organs as well as deep interior muscles, and this toning increases the efficiency and productivity of the diaphragm muscle.
The numerous benefits of engaging Uddiyana Bandha are not only for the organs of the abdominal cavity.
It can help increase the range of motion of the diaphragm so the Dukkha, which is stagnant stale air that remains in the lung sacs, is massaged up and out, thus helping cleanse and purify the body.
It can aid with clear seeing, improved alertness and maybe longer life and general better welfare.
Uddiyana Bandha encourages the evolution of one’s Self from a limited self- centered existence into one that is based in love.
Of all the Bandhas, Uddiyana is the best, for by its activation liberation comes spontaneously” – Hatha Yoga Pradipika.
Uddiyana Bandha helps you regulate and control your internal systems, hormonal, sexual, metabolic, digestive, and more.
It helps you develop a beautiful you.
This ‘flying up lock’ is about your insides flying upwards, meaning your energy as well as your diaphragm, stomach, and abdominal organs.
With Uddiyana Bandha the energy moves upwards with much more force than Mula Bandha, thus allowing you to invert and jump more easily. It also can help you float back and forth more lightly, and twist better.
Additional Benefits of Uddiyana Bandha
Doing Uddiyana Bandha can also aid with:
- cleansing energy channels
- stimulating energy
- improving digestion and elimination
- improving overall functioning of the alimentary canal
- improving concentration
- help to prepare the mind for meditation
- helping to relieve depression
Uddiyana Bandha is a muscular contraction that helps you to breathe better, focus on your awareness and keep your body strong.
It can create more strength and stability in certain poses and can be used along with specific pranayama breath practices to heighten your experience and practice.
Known as the “flying upward lock,” Uddiyana Bandha brings fire to the digestive system and lightness to your yoga poses.
Uddiyana Bandha And Breathing
In hatha yoga, Uddiyana Bandha is a physical contraction that gives structural support to the body, mainly in the organs in the abdomen.
When engaged in conjunction with pranayama (breath work) and kumbhaka (breath retention), Uddiyana Bandha is used to stop the movement of prana (the vital life force, or energy), so we can begin to control or retain Prana.
According to the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Uddiyana (upward flying) is so called by the Yogis because, by its practice, the Prana flies up the Sushumna Nadi. Sushumna Nadi is the central channel that correlates with the central nervous system housed in the spinal column. This is healthy for the body and mind and can lead to heightened awareness.
Uddiyana Bandha supports us in lifting ourselves up against the downward magnetic force of gravity and it is with Uddiyana Bandha where the upward lift against gravity can be seen most clearly.
It is important to view Uddiyana Bandha and its relation to breath because without breath, there is no prana to control. Uddiyana Bandha can help create a container within the body to make the most out of the prana energy.
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Uddiyana Bandha And Digestion
Uddiyana Bandha strengthens the digestive fire and tonifies the body’s energetic core. With this bandha the abdominal organs are massaged, toned and purified and the adrenal glands are balanced by the abdominal contraction. It can be very helpful in relation to high blood pressure, heart disease, glaucoma, and pregnancy.
Uddiyana Bandha focuses on the navel region which is associated with digestion and with the generation of internal heat. From this hub energy radiates outward to the rest of the body in the prana channels called nadis.
Uddiyana Bandha can be the ultimate remedy for abdominal and stomach ailments, ranging from constipation to indigestion. It stimulates the digestive juices and increases your metabolism. Plus it is very good for toning your abdominal organs.
It balances the adrenal system bringing relief from stress, lethargy and tension.
It can help with your Will, firmness and self-confidence plus provide an increased capacity for acting efficiently in any direction we want to go.
Uddiyana Bandha can lead to a constant state of optimism and joy and it is a sure fire way to get flat washboard abs without ever doing any crunches!
Uddiyana Bandha And Sexual Benefits
Uddiyana Bandha helps us to manage, harnass and control the prana energy within the body.
It can have sexual benefits as well, such as increasing the sexual energy to superior levels, along with sexual will, affection and intuition. It gives a boost to the mental and spiritual levels and it stimulates the courage and self-confidence, providing you with lucidity and calmness.
Uddiyana Bandha And A Higher Power
We use Uddiyana Bandha to harnass and manage the prana energy bringing much benefit as a result. It is used with breath control to gain the full energy that is available in yoga.
However it is good to keep in mind that harnessing and channeling the prana energies is best done with the aid of a Higher Power. Some call it Buddha, or God, or The Tao or Christ but whichever one is your choice the Higher Power is the best asset for practicing yoga and energy management.
Scripture says that the prana is a modification of mind. Thus it is created by the mind and is actually overseen by the mind. When the Higher Power is kept in mind it illumines the mind and is reflected in the prana. This adds an entire new dimension to the practice and adds the light that is seen on the famous yogis faces and body glows.
Being mindful of the Higher Power is highly recommended and is actually in the scriptures like the Vedas which are the original source of yoga itself.
Here we have talked about Uddiyana Bandha and the many benefits of it. It can be a great aid to the practice and can be used to take it to the next level.
Uddiyana bandha should be practiced individually at first, and then it can be incorporated with the other bandhas, asanas, pranayamas and eventually mudras.
Although it may seem like a special function or technique, it is pretty common in yoga classes to be told to keep the belly toned and the navel moving toward the spine in many standing and seated postures. Uddiyana bandha works very well with the breathing practices and can aid in avoiding injuries.
Sometimes when yogis are muscling through poses without the support of breath and Bandha activation we find many root causes of on-the-mat injuries.
And remember that we can use Uddiyana bandha for heightened awareness also.
According to the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, a classic Sanskrit manual on hatha yoga, when the prana force stops moving, the mind stops moving as well.
That’s what we want for peace and good meditations!
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